Snowshoeing in the Catalan Pyrenees

“Snowshoe through this little-known, less-trodden part of the Catalan Pyrenees, staying in traditional villages way off the tourist trail.”


Barcelona | Roni | Santa Magdalena Valley | wine tasting | La Coma Valley | visit local cheese maker | La Portella Peak | visit Catalan wool collective | Valencia d'Aneu | Son | Esterri d’Àneu | Fogueruix Pass | Aiguiestortes National Park

Description of Snowshoeing in the Catalan Pyrenees

If you think the peaks of the Catalan Pyrenees are out of bounds in winter, think again. Putting on snowshoes and striding out allows you to experience the landscape in the snow. Well off the classic tourist trail, this small-group holiday heads to the Pallars Sobira region, a dramatic setting for snowshoeing which is also rich in cultural heritage. Expect to discover a remote mountain way of life as well as the breathtaking scenery.

Staying in two traditional Spanish villages during the week, we will walk through ancient forests, across valleys and through tiny forgotten villages, stopping off to visit local producers of wine, cheese and wool. Soaring peaks and extraordinary views are the constant backdrop and you’ll walk with an expert local guide, who can steer the group off the main trail and onto more interesting routes. Snowshoes, poles, all transport and activities are included.

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19 Jan 2020
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Holiday type

Small group holiday

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Snowshoeing in the Catalan Pyrenees

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.


Accommodation and Meals:
We will divide our stay between the villages of Rialp at Hotel Victor and Lo Paller mountain hotel in Valencia d'Aneu. Both are small villages perched high up in the mountains. All accommodation is locally owned and staffed, which provides employment and income alternatives for many locals. Where meals are provided they are locally sourced with a focus on using traditional ingredients. At Hotel Victor (founded in 1903) in Rialp, homemade meals are prepared with local produce. The restaurant at Lo Paller mountain hotel in Valencia d'Aneu has a growing reputation for good quality Pyrenean cuisine. Guides will be able to recommend authentic restaurants to visit for dinner and these will often be family run.

As we spend the majority of this trip snowshoeing around the Catalan Pyrenees Mountains, we have a relatively low impact on the environment. By hiring our snowshoes and poles locally, we are also ensuring that the community benefits from our activity. We operate on a ‘leave no trace’ basis and guides are careful to enforce this with briefings on responsible tourism issues.

Local Craft and Culture:
Although we spend a lot of time in the wilderness, there are opportunities to experience local craft and culture. We will have the chance to visit a local cheese producer and Catalan wool collective during the trip. La Formatgeria is a family-run business in the village of Surp run by Clara Fernando who left her hometown near Barcelona in 2005 to set up her cheese produce business. We have chosen to visit this cheese-maker as they are committed to the process used to obtain the cheese and use renewable energy. Her cheeses have been awarded several times and during our visit Clara will talk us through the process used to make the cheese and of course we will be able to taste her produce.

AOX is a non-profitable association in the Pallars Sobira region which was established in 2009. Its aim is to achieve a fair price for the wool made by shepherds that still grow a breed of sheep called Xisqueta. AOX aim to be involved in the entire process; buy the wool from the shepherds, manufacture the wool, make products with this 100% pure new wool such as sweaters, gloves, scarves, socks and then finally sell direct to the public. AOX also train a team of local craftswomen who can eventually work the wool to produce high quality items. The AOX mission is to the keep alive the ancestral knowledge but to tailor it to our time and during the trip we will attend a small workshop when we visit the collective and of course have an opportunity to purchase items.

This trip designed to allow a high degree of economic benefit to the local communities; we buy local produce, eat local food and use local services, thus ensuring that as much money as possible is retained within the local economies and the host communities.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

UK Office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

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